Volume 53 - Issue 3 - March 2020

Monongahela Rockhounds

A Pittsburgh Area Mineral, Fossil, & Lapidary Club


The Monongahela Rockhound News is a Monthly Publication of the

Monongahela Rockhounds,

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Volume 53, Issue 3,

March 2020

Visit us on the Web at: www.monongahelarockhounds.org


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President's Message

I have missed everyone! Unfortunately, I will also miss the March meeting as I will be traveling. I look forward to seeing you all at the April meeting. March, as always, is my month to try and organize my minerals. While getting ready for the show, I plan to sort through my fluorite collection. I have gotten to the point where I forget what locations I have already acquired specimens from. I have been trying to find fluorite from as many US locales as possible. That’s not to say that I do not collect fluorite from outside the states, it has just been a lot of fun to see what I could collect from the US. Of course, I have a lot from Illinois, my favorite location, but I have managed to acquire a wide variety from out West (California, New Mexico, Arizona...) as well. I have a nice little Elmwood, TN collection and am building an interesting collection from Connecticut. I look forward to when I can reschedule my talk and share a little bit about my love of fluorite and some pictures from my collection! Happy Rock Hunting, Johanna


Dues are Due!

LAST CHANCE: Memberships need to be renewed or this may be your last chance at seeing the results of this newsletter. The system automatically stops e-mails and mail after April 1st if your membership dues are not current. Dues are $10 for an individual and $20 for families plus an additional $10.00 if you want your newsletter mailed (instead of e-mailed). Please bring your check to the next regular meeting. We also need a signed membership form with present e-mail address and contact numbers to keep our records current plus for insurance coverage. If you joined after July 2019, your membership is valid through December 2020.


March 2020 Meeting

• Presentation on the “Shanghai Oriental Geological Museum” by Frank D.

• "Rock of the Month" will be Copper Minerals

• Hosts will be Keri & Robin WHEN

Mar 07, 2020, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM EST WHERE

Munhall Borough Building, 1900 West St, Munhall, PA 15120, USA


Meeting Minutes

1 February 2020 By Gerry Gagorik

  • Johanna was ill so Bret Howard did an impromptu presentation on Agates and Tony asked various club members about their favorite minerals.

  • Next month Johanna will do her presentation.

  • Rock of the Month for March will be copper minerals.

  • Thank you to June & Bret, Frank & Carol and Angelle for hosting the refreshments.

  • Hosts for March will be Keri & Robin.

  • Show & Tell for February was Agate:

  • Rosemary presented a variety of Agates and Jasper from Madagascar.

  • Gwen presented an opalized Ammonite, Red Agate pendants and Agate slices.

  • Bret presented a variety of Agate slices and specimens.

  • John W, presented the best of John’s collection as he is leaving the area. This included self-collected Emeralds from North Carolina, Walworth specimens as well as lapidary arts pieces and facets.

  • Gerry G showed 2 pieces of sliced Agate, boulder Agate with 1 side polished.

  • We had 1 new member: Matt Sepico.

  • Business Meeting

  • Bret presented a report on the upcoming club show April 18 & 19, 2020. Presently we will have 10 dealers.

  • Next Month we will have more details plus sign up sheets. We will discuss if the club will once again provide vouchers for club members.

  • Tony presented the Treasurer’s report.

  • For next month’s newsletter Robert Fraser will try to write an article.


General Information

Monongahela Rockhounds PO Box 18063 Pittsburgh, PA 15236 www.monongahelarockhounds.orgMission Statement

  • To promote, among its members and the general public, an interest in collection of minerals, fossils, and associated items.

  • To promote their use in lapidary work.

  • To promote the study and classification of minerals, gem stones and other items of such nature.


  • Member: Eastern Federation of Mineralogical and Lapidary Societies, Inc.

  • Member: American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.

Meeting Location Munhall Borough Building 20th Ave. & West Street Munhall, PA 15120


​Club Officers

President Johanna Burnett ​ 1st Vice-President Bret Howard ​ 2nd Vice-President Debbie Braddock ​ Treasurer Tony Orzano ​ Record Secretary Debbie Thompson ​ Silent Auction Debbie Braddock ​ Board of Directors June Epp Donald Laufer Frank DeWinter Webmaster Emmalyn Ilagan webmaster@monongahelarockhounds.orgNewsletter Editor Frank DeWinter editor@monongahelarockhounds.org


We normally meet the first Saturday of every month from September through June at 7:30 pm, in the Munhall Borough Building for a presentation, business meeting and a chance to socialize. There is a major focus on the younger members of our club with portions of the meeting specifically for school aged children.Our next meeting will be on Saturday, March 7, 2020. The April meeting will be on the 4th.


Monongahela Rockhound News is the official newsletter of the Monongahela Rockhounds.

Disclaimer & Release: To the best of our knowledge, all articles and information presented in this newsletter are true, accurate and free of copyright infringement. The Monongahela Rockhounds is not responsible for the usage of the information contained in the newsletter. The Monongahela Rockhounds hereby grants other non-profit organizations the right to republish articles in this newsletter for non-commercial usage as long as complete source credit is given, unless noted otherwise.

Deadline: The editor welcomes any and all contributions to the newsletter. Please provide articles and any other submissions for publication at least 2 weeks prior to the upcoming meeting to be considered for inclusion in that month’s issue.

Please e-mail any newsletter articles to the editor's e-mail: editor@monongahelarockhounds.org


Salvation or Financial Ruin

By Robert Fraser About 15 years ago one of our daughters, Meredith, and her husband built a house – literally did the majority of the work themselves with help from Meredith's father-in-law. Meredith was not just taking ice tea to them; she was on the roof laying shingle. But then she's only a “Southern” girl by marriage you see. ​ The house is about an hour north of Raleigh, North Carolina, out in the country in Granville County. Granville County has a good school system, where we did a rock show for our grandson's third grade class several years ago. The property backs on the Tar River, which is just a good-sized creek that eventually finds it's way to the Pamlico Sound. What they probably didn't know is that it is also in a Triassic Age area called the Grand River Basin. What they did know, or found out very soon, is that it's a bad area for trying to drill a well. Their first wells was near the house; it went to 300 feet, and nada. The second try, near the road, got water at 400 feet. Meredith described it as looking “thick” and said it was so hard that washing in it would change your hair color. It was on the gritty side, oily tasting, tested for pesticide residue, stained fixtures and corroded fittings, but it was wet and they drank bottled water. Several years later, a neighbor across the road filled a swimming pool and that collapsed the “aquifer”. They depended more and more on a rain water cistern, and told the kids to be sure to shower after gym class. By last fall there was no water at all. What? Still money on the mortgage, and no value to a house without water. One neighbor has drilled seven wells (drillers charge by the foot) – and no joy! ​ All this above is the human drama. Now for the geology. Below is what they learned after a geologist prognosticated on their dilemma. He was initially reluctant to waste their money knowing that their neighborhood was so problematic. But what does it mean, “The Grand River area is a Triassic basin”? https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/energy-mineral-land-resources/north-carolina-geological-survey/geologic-hazards/groundwater-%E2%80%93-quantity-and-quality-respect-geology/guide-homeowners-triassic-basins-north-carolina ​ This link (along with maps), in part, says “the Triassic basins are underlain by sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstone and siltstone that are very clay rich and poorly sorted. This means that there is little pore space to hold water, and also that the water that is held in these rocks cannot migrate easily.” “A second rock type commonly occurs in the Triassic basins. It is an igneous rock called diabase that is Jurassic in age, younger than the Triassic sedimentary rocks. Diabase typically occurs in narrow, nearly vertical sheets (dikes) that can be seen to cut across the older rocks.” ​ Not remembering diabase from Geology 101, I of course went to Wikipedia: ​ Follow these blue underlines for an intro to volcanic geology. There is quite a wealth of information linked here. (Hover the cursor over the blue text and click “open hyperlink” – or some such) Volcanoes in eastern North Carolina?? Who knew? I did https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabase and learned that: “Diabase or dolerite or microgabbro is a mafic, subvolcanic rock equivalent to volcanic basalt or plutonic gabbro. Diabase dikes and sills are typically shallow intrusive bodies and often exhibit fine grained to aphanitic chilled margins which may contain tachylite (dark mafic glass)” Mafic rocks are igneous and rich in iron, so they have magnetic properties. Cooling rates affect the resulting forms. If I have this correct, basalt is from fast cooling, and gabbros are from slow. Diabase is a sort of Goldilocks. (I like “plutonic”; it means intrusive.) The key though is the iron content. The geologist brought that modern equivalent of a divining rod – a magnetometer. He counseled that an area about 70 yards behind the house and perhaps 20 feet down the slope to the Tar River would be a promising, but not guaranteed, spot to drill. The cost of the road to the potential drilling pad was about two grand, which was still less than the cost of drilling. So you can see why Meredith titled this picture of the drill rig , “Salvation or Financial Ruin”. The driller remembered the area and cursed, expecting several days of frustrating work. He hit water at 30 feet! Five gallon a minute – plenty for a household! He didn't trust it and kept drilling......... At 167 feet, 30 gallons per minute – enough for a neighborhood! Meredith said it is clear and tastes like bottled spring water. They are replacing some fixtures and our twelve-year old grand daughter had her first ever tub bath. (Not to worry; she's had plenty of showers.) To the right. Very likely diabase with a high content of quartz crystals. It's quite a contrast to the ubiquitous North Carolina dirt that doesn't even grow grass well. The picture below is the drill borings. Meredith and her sisters have exchanged pictures of folks dancing, showers spraying, even the Beverly Hillbillies – but no. The green is not emerald. Maybe olivine, which is common in the crust and igneous rock, but it darkened and crumbled on drying. ?? Meredith says she has seen many spots that look like pyrite, and forms of pyrites reportedly do occur in these formations.